Tag Archives: choices

Father, Forgive Them

Luke 23:34 – Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

 

He hung on the cross.

Beaten to within an inch of His life.

Bleeding from every area of His body.

Nailed through His tender wrists and ankles.

Hung, naked, for all to see.

Mocked and taunted to help Himself as He helped others.

 

And yet, with one of His precious breaths, He prays.

For them there witnessing the horrors of the moment who demanded His death.

For those who had walked with Him and abandoned Him.

For those who would come to believe in the days ahead.

For those who orchestrated and participated in His execution.

 

And for us, many years into the future, who would have His Word and His name readily available to believe in.

 

Though taking that breath was hard and wracked His already broken body with pain, He prayed for His Father to forgive them all.  All who were involved in His death.

 

But He also prayed it as an eternal prayer for all people through all time.  He was asking His father to forgive us all, including those in today’s technological society.

 

He prayed because He knew.  That we as humans would be limited to know the power of our choices and the vastness of their consequences.  That we as humans would be unable to harness our emotions all the time and would therefore speak rashly and brashly.  That we as humans would be prone to selfishness and self-centeredness.

 

father_forgive_them

 

But here is the hard truth that hit me hard Thursday night – most of the time, we are not making an honest error or simple mistake.

 

He reminded me that we often are making a deliberate choice to do things our way, by our power.  We are choosing to ignore His guidance and do what we want to do, without regret or remorse for ignoring His Spirit.  We are choosing to be selfish for our desires, without regret or remorse for those we hurt in the process of pursuit.  We are choosing to be emotionally driven and lash out, without regret or remorse for the damage we do and the relationships we destroy.

 

Yet, He knew all this.  He knew we would act contrary to His best and fight against His purpose.

 

So, as He hung on that cross, His body slowly losing its battle with life, He chose to pray for us.  He prayed for God to forgive us for those times when we didn’t realize what we did was wrong.  But He also prayed for God to forgive us for those times when we did know we were wrong – and chose to act anyway.

 

Father, forgive them”.

Because they do not know how they break Your heart.

 

Father, forgive them”.

Because they do not know how they are hurting themselves.

 

Father, forgive them”.

Because they do not know how they are rewriting their futures.

 

Father, forgive them”.

Because they do not know how much it will cost them.

 

Father, forgive them”.

Because they do not know how much damage they are doing.

 

Father, forgive them”.

Because we love them in spite of themselves.  That’s why I allowed myself to be beaten and crucified.  So we could forgive them, by the power of My blood, and have an intimate relationship with them.  Especially in those moments when they need extreme forgiveness for extreme humanity.

 

And that is true love!  He knew how we would act, think, and speak against Him and His love.  Yet He chooses to love us anyway.  In the unconditional, unrelenting, unending way that He does.

 

So choose to acknowledge where you have gone against God, decide to change your heart and turn it back toward God, and accept the forgiveness He is waiting to give you.

 

Marie Fremin.  5/19/19

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Acts 4: Boldness

Acts 4:27-31 – 27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”  31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

 

We often wonder if God hears our prayers and sees our tears.

 

It is easy to convince ourselves that God does not care about every detail of our lives.  Because we are pulled in so many directions by expectations – those of the world, those of ourselves, and those of others.

 

So we get lost and confused, and we turn ourselves away from what God has for us.  We tell ourselves that we are doing good and things are fine … but deep down, in the most hidden places in our hearts, we know they aren’t.

 

And maybe Peter and John felt this same way that day at the temple.  They were going to the temple to pray (Acts 3:1), possibly hoping to get direction from God or possibly hoping to get to talk about Him to anyone who would listen.

 

And then God presents them with an opportunity as they climb the temple steps and come face-to-face with a lame man, begging for enough to support himself and his parents.  And Peter does not hesitate to meet the man’s expectation – only Peter does just as He saw Jesus do and goes above the man’s simple expectations.  He says “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6) and then pulls the man up to standing.

 

The same man who never once in his life had stood or walked now walks into the temple with them.  To the disbelief of all who know him.  And they want to know what happened.

 

So Peter takes the opportunity to tell them who Jesus is and to remind them that repentance will change their lives.  And the crowd is moved.  Much to the chagrin of the religious leaders, who have them thrown in jail for the night.

 

The next morning, they come together in full force, hoping to intimidate the disciples into silence.  They repeatedly threaten them, wanting to secure their silence and keep the crowds under their religious rule.  But Peter and John will not cower.  It is very simple for them – “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

 

They are released, and they return to their fellow believers.  And a prayer vigil breaks out.  Because they want that extra boost of confidence to know that God is for them and God is with them.  They have seen how the religious leaders treated Jesus, and they know their road will be just as hard … if not harder, since now the leaders know what is possible and see that the crowds are still drawn to His influence.

 

So they pray for the “boldness” they will need to face each coming day.

 

Acts 4 - boldness

 

Boldness to speak when the opportunity arises.

Boldness to act when the circumstances allow.

Boldness to care at all times for all people.

 

Boldness to carry out the mission He gave them – “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

 

They have just had their first encounter with the religious leaders.  And they walked away unscathed.  They know this could be a one-time miracle – and the next time there could be (serious) physical repercussions.

 

So they need boldness – to act according to God’s purposes and not worry about the consequences of man.

 

And God hopes we will pray the same thing.  God hopes that we will give more concentration to His leading and His purpose than to our fears, our anger, and our sorrows.  God hopes that we will give more concern about His will and His plans than our comfort, our convenience, and our cares.  God hopes that will give more consideration to the power He has flowing through us and around us than our weaknesses, our limitations, and our disabilities.

 

So pray for boldness.  To follow God, wherever He may lead.  To obey God, whatever He may ask.  To be available, whenever He needs you.

 

And just as He answered the disciples’ prayer for boldness – “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (31) – so too will He answer you!

 

Marie Fremin.  5/19/19

Still Small Whisper

We tend to think if it is not loud or flashy or colorful that it is not God.

 

We want God to give us neon signs and big directional arrows.  And usually that is not how He words.

 

Because He will not push or coerce or force us to follow Him.  He will not yell commands like a drill sergeant.

 

Read 1 Kings 19:11-12.  We are just like Elijah – we expect a grand display.  We think God has to bring noise (wind), motion/emotion (earthquake), and drama (fire).

 

But notice in these verses that “God was not in” any of these displays.  He was not speaking or comforting or guiding out of the dramatic, noisy, disturbing, chaotic, emotional things.

 

God spoke and comforted Elijah in a STILL, SMALL WHISPER.  Something so soft and tender Elijah had to LEAN IN CLOSE to hear God.  Something Elijah had to STOP SPEAKING (aka complaining) to hear.  Something Elijah had to STOP STRIVING to focus on and change directions.

 

God purposely whispers in our chaos and plans so we have to CHOOSE TO STOP and seek Him.  Sometimes He is outright silent – because we are too stubborn to obey (aka we think we are smarter than He is and can figure it out on our own).  He needs us to work through our flesh until we are willing to let Him transform us.

 

We cannot be transformed (into the person He created us to be, full of Christ) until we stop conforming (doing things the world’s way and thinking we know what is best).

 

So how hard are you working?

What big sign are you looking for?

 

You won’t hear His loving whisper if you continue this way.

Today is a great day to choose to stop … and listen.

 

Marie Fremin.  2/27/19 and 3/16/19

Habakkuk 3 Prayer

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18 NKJV

Loving Father,
Thank You for showering us with grace, even when we could not – and would not – see it or feel it. Thank You for loving us through all of our mistakes, our bad choices, our hard times, our pain, and our fears. Thank You for never giving up on us and for continuing to pursue us, no matter where we were and what we did. Thank You for helping us by opening our eyes to Your truth, our minds to Your grace, and our hearts to Your forgiveness.

I know, gracious Father, that several of us are going through a hard season. The provision is lean, the opportunities are limited, and the outlook looks less than great. Just as in Habakkuk 3, where everything was against God’s people and it seemed hopelessness was the only option.

I pray as we walk through this season that You continue to uplift us, continue to encourage us, and continue to strengthen us. Thank You for giving us the courage to lean into You fully and to trust You with extreme faith. Thank You for giving us the courage to be radical in our choices, our thinking, and our words.

Help us to see the opportunity in our pain, in our struggle, in our confusion, and in our waiting. Help us to remember that You had a great plan for Joseph that started with his pit. He could not see the purpose of that pit, just as we cannot see the purpose of our current season. But You took the time needed to work the tattletale out of Joseph and the wise leader into him. You also used the pit to remind him that he needed You to be his source, his security, and his surety. Because he had nothing else.

Thank You for loving us as much as Joseph by helping us work our way out of the pit and into Your purpose. Thank You for giving us a heart that is sure about Your love and secure about Your purpose. Thank You for giving us the ability and determination to keep moving forward, even if it is one inch at a time, no matter what our circumstances and feelings are trying to tell us.

Thank You, loving Father, for meeting each woman reading this at the point of her greatest need. Thank You for opening a door that leads to an answer she is praying for. Thank You for bringing us each one step closer to Your best for our lives.

In Jesus’ almighty name. AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  2/15/19

Beware the Armor

38 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off” (1 Samuel 17:38-39).

 

David has shown up on the battlefield where his three oldest brothers are at war.  He has been sent by his father with supplies for them (17) and is hoping to bring back good news to his father (18).

 

He probably expects to see an intense battle taking place.  Maybe he will get to see something exciting.  But instead he finds an arrogant Philistine army on one side (8-10) and a hesitant Israelite army on the other (3, 11).  No fighting because Israel is terrified (16, 24).

 

Standing there in shock, he hears the taunts of the Philistine champion Goliath (23).  And David is outraged.  How dare anyone challenge God or His army (26)!  He is so upset that he declares that HE, a young shepherd, is ready to fight the taunting giant (32).  King Saul scoffs (33), but David knows he is more than able to defeat Goliath – God has kept him safe in the sheep fields (34-36), and God has not changed.  Therefore “The Lord … will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (37).

 

With no one else willing to fight, Saul has no choice but to send David in.  If the boy does not survive, he can say it was his foolish choice to go and he could not be stopped.  But he, as the leader, cannot send the boy in defenseless.

 

So how does one defeat a giant covered in armor (5-7)?  Obviously by dressing up like – and therefore being evenly matched with – the giant.  Right?

 

Beware the Armor

 

Wrong.

 

That is such a simple yet deadly lie we are led to believe.  We are divine warriors, not simpering similars.  Why would we want to look anything like our (spiritual) enemy?  He lost with the cross and is currently biding his time until Jesus returns.  He has no power, no authority, and no wisdom within him or available to him.  So don’t try to imitate him.

 

But Saul did.  Saul thought dressing David up in full armor would work.  “So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail.” (38).  But it did not.  The armor was so heavy, so awkward, and so unnatural to him that he was stuck.   “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me” (39, MSG).

 

And that is what the enemy wants to do with us.  He wants us to look like him, act like him, think like him, and look like him.  And he always wants us to believe that we are less than God’s best when we don’t.  He wants to overwhelm us with uncertainty and overtake us with indecision.  He wants us to take ownership of things God does not have purposed for us.  Things that are awkward, heavy, and unnatural.  So we become paralyzed and indecisive.

 

David knew he could not fight if he could not move.  So the shepherd boy goes back to what has worked in the past – a simple weapon (40) and an enormous faith (45).  And we are still talking about the power of being yourself all these years later.

 

Saul’s armor didn’t work for David.  So David went back to who God created him to be and what worked best for him.

 

Other people’s expectations and labels won’t work for you.

Don’t own them.  Don’t accept them.  Don’t wear them.

Don’t conform to that awkward character people want you to wear.

 

Be the poetry and the masterpiece God created you to be (Ephesians 2:10).

Walk in what you know to be true about yourself through God’s grace.

 

Claim the truth of who He is and how good He is.

Grab hold of the power He has waiting for you.

Run toward His purpose for you.

 

So I pray today that God has touched your heart – and you are willing to consider the armor in your life.  Let today be the day you take off anything that isn’t of God and is keeping you from moving toward His best.

 

Marie Fremin.  3/1/19, 3/2/19

 

Wreck Yourself

Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17)

 

If I even start to think about everything Jonah would have seen and smelled as he sat and sulked and prayed “in the belly of the fish three days and three nights”, I could easily lose my lunch.  It would not have been pleasant.  In fact, it may have been torture – inhaling all kinds of rotten and decaying smells.

 

But apparently it was exactly what Jonah needed to get himself back on course.  Because Jonah had purposely gone off course from where God wanted him to be.  And God needed Jonah to start moving in the right direction.

 

It started when God called Jonah to “… go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it …” (Jonah 1:2).  And Jonah was not interested.

 

Nineveh had a widespread reputation for “evil way[s]” and “violence” (Jonah 3:8).  So Jonah had no interest in going there at risk of his life, even by the call of God.

 

Mistake #1.  The wreck begins.

 

Jonah refused to consider who was calling him – and His ability to keep him safe.  All Jonah thought about was himself and his personal safety.  He did not trust God to keep him safe.

 

Mistake #2.  The wreck intensifies as fear takes over.

 

So Jonah’s brilliant solution?  He runs “from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3), driven by fear and convincing himself that God will eventually forget about him and send someone else.

 

Mistake #3.  The wreck becomes a whirlwind.

 

Jonah jumps on a fishing boat headed to Tarshish and checks out.  Completely.  He is so content in his self-righteous disobedience that “… Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep” (Jonah 1:5).  He disengaged from God, distancing himself in as many ways as he could.

 

Wreck Yourself

 

But God called Jonah to Nineveh.  And God wanted Jonah to fulfill that call.

 

He knew exactly where Jonah was, where Jonah was trying to go, and where Jonah’s heart was. He knew how checked out and in denial Jonah was.  And He knew He had to do something drastic to get Jonah’s attention.

 

So He sends a storm – “But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up” (Jonah 1:4).

 

Not just a little shaking of the boat.  Not just a few waves to make the crew wonder.  But gigantic waves and tumultuous winds – enough to make them think the boat would be torn to pieces in a matter of minutes.

 

And where was Jonah?  Still asleep in the bottom of the boat, unconcerned about things happening around him.  He was so deep into the wreck of his decision that he refused to stir.  He did not turn over at the loud noises of the storm.  He did not move at the extreme rocking of the boat by the winds.  He did not get up at hearing the anguished cries of the boat crew.  He refused to move until the captain forced him awake, demanding he pray.

 

Jonah was so deep into denial that it seems he was ready to go down in the storm rather than face God.  And he seems to be so disengaged with his heart that he was willing to take the boat crew with him.  That is a whole new level of wrecked!

 

And now his initial disaster of a decision turned into a literal disaster for the boat crew.

 

And maybe the truth of how low he has sunk starts to dawn on him as he is shaken awake and forced back into reality.  Seeing the storm and being face-to-face with the panic of the crew, he realizes he has to deal with his mess – he has to take responsibility for his bad choices.

 

He also decides to protect the crew, who are innocent victims in the wreck of his mess.

 

Jonah winds up being thrown overboard (Jonah 1:15), where God’s mercy shows up in the form of the fish (Jonah 1:17).

 

Now God has Jonah’s undivided attention – and his softened heart.  And Jonah can start to unwreck his life.

 

So how about you?

Is your life currently in the middle of a wreck?

Did your decisions get you there?

Are you dragging others down with you?

 

You can check yourself and begin to unwreck yourself – without having to hang out in a fish.

 

I believe if Jonah had confessed his fears to God instead of running, God would have reassured him.  God could have comforted him with the truth that he would come out of Nineveh alive – after he helped bring an entire nation to repentance.  One man and eight words changed the heart of an entire nation.

 

But Jonah took the long, hard way – and almost missed out on the blessing of their repentance.  Because he chose to hold onto his fears and allowed them to direct him.  Following his fear put him in the belly of the fish for three days – coming to terms with the wreck his fear caused.  I am sure he reasoned, he bargained, he pleaded, and he complained – before he finally came to the point of true repentance.

 

Don’t make the same mistake as Jonah.  Don’t wait for a great fish to swallow you (aka the point of no return) before you address your mess.

 

Start today, right where you are.  Before the wreck gets any bigger.  Start owning it – so it won’t continue to own and control you.

 

God is ready – and waiting – for you to own the mess, pick up every piece of it, and bring it all to Him.  He has a grace-filled plan to help you repair the wreck and get you (back) on course toward His best life.

 

So choose today to reach out for the loving hand God has waiting and allow Him to help you.  And pretty soon your wreck will become your testimony of His goodness.

 

Marie Fremin.  10/26/18 and 11/24/18

Careless Words

Have you ever heard someone say or ask something and a wild thought pop into your head?  And before you can tell yourself “no, do not say that” you hear the words coming out of your mouth.  And then you find yourself in an OMG moment with possibly a side of embarrassment as you sit there with your foot hanging out of your mouth.

 

Careless Words

 

Moments like Peter seemed to have more often than others.  Peter, the brash disciple who seems to speak whatever thought came into his head, no matter how crazy or inappropriate.  He seemed to speak first – and, finding his foot in his mouth, left himself to deal with the consequences later.

 

Thank God He loves messy people – including those of us who suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.  Those of us whose “be quiet” filter malfunctions from time to time.  Those of us who dine on filet of sole because we speak before we think.  Those of us who are emotionally charged and find ourselves speaking (spewing) out of turn by temper’s lead.  Those of us who often speak out of turn and without proper context.

 

Those of us just like Peter.

 

But here is the blessing – Peter’s careless tongue never stopped God from loving him.  It also did not stop God from giving him a great purpose.  Because God knew that Peter’s tongue, when tempered by passion for Him, would help bring many people to God’s love.

 

And Peter’s passion for God, I think, was helped along by all those foot-in-mouth moments.

 

I can only pray that God uses my foot-in-mouth OMG moments just like He did for Peter.  Especially after I had one this past week at work.

 

Our new temp asked why someone was leaving early.  I am not sure why she asked, except that this was the only other person she knew in the building.  As I rolled my eyes at her question, I gave her a joking response – something so out of the norm that it may distract her.

 

But I did not think about my response before I spoke – which I should have.  It was something a former coworker and I used to joke and laugh about.  But these were new people in a new environment, with actual adult expectations.  We were still getting to know each other.

 

And I knew as soon as the words left my mouth that I was wrong.  That my “don’t say that” filter was malfunctioning as my brain tricked my tongue into believing we were still at my old job.

 

And had I been wise enough to pause and filter, I would have stopped the words that came out of my mouth.  Because I should not have joked the way I did.  My conscience immediately checked me when it heard the words – and I internally and externally cringed.  And if that was not bad enough, HR checked me later that week.

 

And I could still be beating myself up about my words.  But I am not.  I look back at the incident and I realize God is giving me a gentle reminder that it is crucial that I watch my words.

 

Because words change the atmosphere around me.

Because words change the influence I have.

Because words change people’s opinions.

 

And I could easily destroy the good work God is doing with careless words.

 

So God used this incident to remind me that words are important.

Words should highlight the positive – and not glorify the negative.

Words should encourage and build up – not discourage or tear down.

Words should bring joy and peace – not sow discord and pain.

Words should bring purpose and healing – not destroy faith and hope.

Words should bring people closer – not push them away.

 

So I failed in all these aspects.  Why?

Because I stopped paying attention to what I was thinking about.

Because I listened to my emotions instead of grace.

Because I refused to pause and consider.

 

And therefore, I needed God to remind me of the dangers of careless words.

Carelessness covers (conceal) grace.

Carelessness chases away grace.

Carelessness casts off grace.

 

Paul may have also learned this lesson the hard way.  Because he gives us great advice about our words in Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

 

If my words are not “impart[ing] grace”, then I should NOT be speaking them.  Which means that I need to consider if my words are careless and caustic or comforting and caring BEFORE I speak.  And if there is no grace in my thoughts, then I need to cast them aside and refuse to let them become words.

 

Thank You, Father, for the continued reminder about my words.  Thank You for keeping me on point about the impact and power of my words – that without Your grace they are “full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).  Help me to speak words that “impart grace” (Ephesians 4:29) and help people know You.  Help me to be intentional about not being careless with anything I say and do.  When I am off course, correct me however You see fit.  Thank You for loving me enough to correct me as You lead me into Your best life.  In Jesus’ all-mighty name.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  10/26/18, 11/17/18, 11/18/18.